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MINOR GRIEVANCES by Christopher Gonzalez

Adam tells me no one else will be by the water after such a bad snowfall. Edgewater Park should be deserted: just us and the lake, frozen into solid hills. It would be quiet, which I preferred—I kept quiet about a lot. Like the Grindr app I downloaded onto my phone as soon as I turned eighteen. How I’ve scrolled down that wall of guys, those photos of abs and round bellies, and the few faces concealed beneath the bill of a trucker’s camouflage snapback. I’ve tap-tap-tap-tapped the flame icon on a number of profiles, hoping to create a breadcrumb trail to the man of my dreams.

At least today, it’s led me to Adam.

There are no other cars around, so Adam drives onto the beach, parks close to the water. “Maybe when we finish, we can climb the waves and walk across them all the way to Canada.” I don’t laugh but sense that I should. He squeezes the steering wheel. The entire ride up I hadn’t said a word. “Come on, that was funny,” he says. “Picture it: you, me, and Justin Trudeau, frolicking.”

“Sorry, sorry, I’m having a moment.” I point out the window. There is still some sunlight over the lake; I want to thaw out under its burning glow.

“Yeah, it’s beautiful, huh? Almost as pretty as you.” He moves his hand from the wheel to my thigh, begins sliding it closer to my crotch. I’ve been here many times before. All those Friday nights spent following Siri’s voice across Northeast Ohio, spider-webbing down back roads and alleyways, to meet some random guy in the black mouth of night.

I place my hand over Adam’s, try to absorb all of its heat in my palm. Then his mouth is on mine and I wince at his cold tongue. My lips crack and sting at the edges, and his beard scrapes too roughly along my chin—but these are minor grievances. I keep quiet and lean back in the passenger seat, familiarize myself with the sensation of his body pressed against mine.

The guys I connect with are always older, sometimes by decades. They’re white men, mean men, greedy men. They live in dark houses, keep to themselves. On occasion, they own a dog. They shoot guns and kill fish and salute the flag and pretend they fit into the idea of a nation that wants very little to do with them and nothing to do with me. And still I slide beneath these men, risk disappearing altogether. Perhaps I’m already gone.

Neither Adam nor I make any sounds of pleasure, then it ends.

After, we walk along the edge of the lake where the ice meets untouched snow. He climbs onto the lake and reaches down to help me up. It’s eerie—the waves are so still. I can almost hear them crashing into one another, can’t stop imagining all that movement, exactly as they should be.   

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